The Graffiti Curator
Juma Mkwela

Juma Mkwela


"We wanted to inspire, educate, and tell stories that hadn’t been told"

"We wanted to inspire, educate, and tell stories that hadn’t been told"

What’s the story behind Woodstock’s murals?

This movement was founded by a longstanding group of artists that were painting in Woodtsock but who wanted to take their art from the studios into the streets. We wanted to inspire, we wanted to educate, and we wanted to tell stories that hadn’t been told. Today, we have more than 100 pieces here by local and international artists. In 2012, there was a demand from people to go and see the artwork and to know the stories behind them, and so I started doing the walking tours.

How did the local community respond to the street art?

We had to go to house owners to get permission to paint on their property, and at the start only half said yes. But as we started to paint, more people started to allow the art. It wasn’t easy for people to understand what we were doing. They thought art could only be found in the galleries; that it was only for the rich to own. We explained that this would be art and it would belong to the people. We wanted it to inspire them everyday. Now, the local people love it.

Can you tell us a bit about the neighbourhood?

Woodstock was historically an English neighbourhood of textile factories, but was hit hard when the Chinese market boomed and overtook local business. Artists moved into the empty buildings and it started becoming trendy. More recently, the area has become gentrified. Woodstock now has one of the finest restaurants in the world, The Test Kitchen. Places like Rosetta Roastery and Honest Chocolate are popular, plus the food and fashion at Saturday’s Neighbourgoods Market in The Old Biscuit Mill. It’s very vibrant, very happening. And after a day checking out the street art, you can have a drink at the arty Casa Woodstock Bar. If you come for the tour, you want to end up somewhere with a similiar artistic vibe.

Read the Meet Your South Africa magazine here

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